Sunday, December 13, 2015

Listening. Responding. Reacting. (and Borrowing.)

December has been an exceptionally busy month for me so this month's blog post is being brought to you by .... my own post that I "borrowed" from the Inner Circle Music (INCM) Blog Page. Enjoy.
Listening. Responding. Reacting.

More new topics and observations in 2016. I absolutely don't expect anyone to agree with me on some or any of them. However, alternative viewpoints are exactly what is needed (and even necessary) to turn ideas into actions. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everyone Deserves a Chance

Here's my answer to a question that's asked of me practically every time I'm invited to appear on a music panel:

"What advice could you offer to concert promoters/organizers who want to bring about a major change and some fresh new music to the audience?"

For starters, promoters should be willing to take a risk, ignore trends and sometimes trust their instincts, and book new or emerging artists that have little or no track record who have created a buzz on the jazz underground. Everyone on the scene usually knows who they are already, and a short polling of insider's opinions would easily reveal who these new talents are. They can regularly be found working for peanuts in every dive bar or playing for free at jam sessions in every major city. They're not difficult to find at all and by presenting them regularly, it would stimulate interest in the music substantially. They're young, eager, and ready to give their best. I always keep my ear to the street (on an international level) and I know scores of amazing young players who already perform in an incredibly advanced and mature capacity.

I strongly recommend doing this, instead of offering the same, tired line ups of uninspired musicians who never raise the artistic bar for themselves nor produce anything provocative. Most of them have settled into complacency much too early in their artistic journey and have set the pace at which they will operate for the remainder of their careers. And yet, their ilk dominates the bookings at every major jazz festival and important venue. It's actually an issue of laziness on behalf of the promoters and reveals how uninformed they are of who is actually relevant on the scene. Many of the common names most often placed on performance rosters are not necessarily held in too high esteem by the hard core players. History has shown that many of the most provocative players are regularly and unjustly ignored time and time again, while the "stars" enjoy the attention of a public who, I am certain, would respond favorably and enjoy more diversity in the festival/concert programming.

I know that my answer is an opinionated one, but I am certain that I am not exclusive in my perspectives on this subject.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Bring it Back Home

This month, I'd like to provide a link to a blog entry that I did for Inner Circle Music, the recording label that I started in 2007. I began this blog in an effort to encourage my fellow artists to share their thoughts, ideas and perspectives with our broad range of music supporters. It isn't a simple task to get musicians and performing artists to express their feelings in words (unless they're singing them). I'm very aware of the numerous demands on everyone's time as well as the challenges of the lifestyle. However, I happen to be a huge fan of artists' tales when expressed in their own words, with no filter. There's something very genuine about it, even if it's not delivered as artistically as their music may be. That's not really my concern - this isn't a spelling bee nor an essay competition. I'm in it for the observations and the stories.

This month's topic covers the idea of self-supported alternative performance spaces for the large numbers of exceptionally talented musicians that all endure the daily frustration of soliciting interest in their work and seeking bookings. In short, the absence of clubs and paying work has made it necessary for artists to look elsewhere for support and receptive audiences.

Inner Circle Music Blog


Friday, September 11, 2015

Responses to Sounding “Young” (from 9/14)

    1.     Negrodeath says: 
May 27, 2015 at 4:39 am 

Personally, I enjoy both approaches (exhuberant and zen-like) – it depends on what it comes out of it. Maybe it’s just because of my fondness for rock music and its theatrics. Still I think your advice has been good, because a young musicians should first of all focus on the development of his solo. You can overplay later, if you want too, but don’t concentrate on pleasing with overplay while learning.
One nasty question: what’s your take on James Carter? Personally, I love his music and playing as much as yours, and I couldn’t think of two more different musicians!  

    2.     Greg Osby says: 
June 4, 2015 at 8:47 pm

I’ve played extensively with James with the World Saxophone Quartet and can honestly say that he is absolutely the loudest saxophone player that I have ever heard or played with. He certainly knows how to project his sound. James has also put in a considerable amount of time studying the styles and approaches of several masters who are completely overlooked these days – Ben Webster, Illinois Jaquet, Gene Ammons, Arnett Cobb, Coleman Hawkins, etc. Knowing these styles gives him broader reference and a sonic and conceptual advantage when playing songs from specific eras and especially ballads. He’s a true fan of the instrument and I have a great deal of respect for him.

    3.     Negrodeath says: 
June 18, 2015 at 3:47 am 

Great! I was asking ’bout James since I often read complains about him, that he’s an exhibitionist and an overplayer etc. Complains that sound superficial and superficially may remember the advices you’ve given the young sax player.
About James’ study of Webster, Ammons Cobb, Byas, Thompson: that’s the first reason I loved his music the first time I heard it. I love the big-toned Hawkins-rooted saxophone players, a way of playing which is a bit too much forgotten nowadays.

    4.     Peter Wisely says: 
August 7, 2015 at 11:54 am 

Hi Greg, I’ve read trough your posts and each one is awesome, I find myself taking a step back after reading them and reevaluating my own playing. I don’t play the saxophone but I do play and certain times when I feel that I am lacking the “words” to say I revert to a showboat tendency. But I’ve also noticed that seasoned players can do this as well what would be a way to avoid this or avoid playing to many choruses, should one replay a part that they have already done? I know that the ideal answer would be learn and practice more parts, but at times I can find myself blanking out and not knowing what to play.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Banned in New York - The Story

On occasion, I will revisit my older recordings just out of curiosity or to reinvestigate the measures and approaches that I may have been working on during a given period. Recordings are wonderful markers that chronicle an artist's progress, attempts at experimentation, and aesthetic awareness. Recently, at the suggestion of a visitor who is also a prominent music journalist, I sat and listened to the full CD version of "Banned in New York" in it's entirety. I hadn't heard it in many years and I must admit that afterwards I felt like I'd newly emerged from an intense live show. The immediacy of the recorded performance was, at times, quite startling and I often didn't even recognize myself in the whirlwind that was emanating from the speakers. Those guys were playing. REALLY playing on an extremely high level. And, as a result, they elevated my output as well. I can truly say with all humility that it was most certainly a shining career moment, and I am extremely proud at what we, collectively, were able to develop and share. 

"Banned" was recorded in New York at the now defunct Sweet Basil (later renamed Sweet Rhythm) in 1998 with a single mini-disc recorder placed on a table in front of the bandstand. We were booked there for a week's engagement after many weeks of domestic and international touring. The group was Jason Moran, piano; Atsushi (Az'shi) Osada, bass; and drummer Rodney Green, who was only 18 at the time and was the newest member of the band. After having so much success on the road, of course my young musicians wanted to make the best possible impression at home in New York. All eyes (and ears) would be on this new group, as much had been written and said about the (yet another) young band of unknowns that I'd assembled. I was more than confident that we would make a strong statement. However, artists in their efforts to be flawless, can sometimes be excessively critical of their work. This is actually what led to the documentation of our playing that week.

 "Banned" Band

Throughout the week's engagement, Rodney made it a point to record every set each night, so that he'd be able to pinpoint areas in his own performance that he felt may have required adjustment and improvement. I am normally not one to listen to recordings of my groups during residencies or when on tour, as they may compel me to micromanage and nitpick actions made by my band members. I prefer not to offer too many comments or suggestions to musicians as eventually it serves to work against the objectives of the group itself. Musicians who have been admonished or counseled too much eventually "tighten up" in fear of making mistakes or displeasing the bandleader. I feel that it is far better to allow the personality and identity of the ensemble to define itself without excessive coaching. I was told, many years ago by a wise elder that "If you have to say too much to the cats that you hired, then you hired the wrong cats." These words, I firmly stand by.

However, Rodney was more than overwhelmed from listening to the recordings night after night.  He was quite relentless in encouraging me to have a listen, which I didn't submit to doing until the final day of our week. At that point, I too was taken by the rawness of the playing as well as how seamless our connection and interaction with one another was. Many weeks on the road tends to have that effect on musicians - their environmental awareness and sensibilities are heightened. Unfortunately, bands don't develop a solid group sound and character in this way very much anymore due to the lack of steady touring opportunities for most as well as the challenges of maintaining a consistent musician lineup. This reminds me of another wise quote that was told to me years ago: "The best way to keep a working band, is to keep the band working." More wise words from a cherished elder. (I'll cover this subject in a later entry.)

After having listened to the recordings several times, I then took a copy to Blue Note president Bruce Lundvall and told him that I wanted to release a set of that week's music as a live CD, which I hadn't done at that point. Previously, I objected to the unnatural staging that took place during most live tapings when the audiences were aware of what was happening. Many patrons know that during a live recording quite possibly, their shouting and applause could also be immortalized on the very recording itself. Many iconic live recordings have been ruined by an errant whistle, holler or otherwise during a sensitive moment in the music. This, just so someone can brag "Hey, that's me right there!" That fact that no one actually knew that we were recording, coupled with the fact that WE didn't either, made for a much more natural and uninhibited documentation that is full of the atmosphere, realism and ambiance that was present in the venue during those evenings. You can hear the cash register, the bartender making drinks and the buzz of the crowd. There is no overzealous applause (actually, sometimes there was NONE at all, which is honestly what happens. A LOT.) and I didn't stop to address the audience until I announced the band at the end of the set. We were "keeping it real" before keeping it real became a thing.

I strongly felt that the collection of those live recordings more realistically captured the urgency and raw connection of the band than on my most recent studio release. We listened together in his office and Bruce agreed, even though we had only just released "Zero" a mere 3 months before. It was quite an unprecedented (and risky) move to have 2 recordings in circulation at the same time, but the sales of "Zero" were really slow because the music on that project was possibly too conceptual for most people. At that point, very few "got" it. But when "Banned" was released featuring us playing primarily jazz standards, people realized that we actually were on to something fresh and that we DID know what we were doing and as a result, the sales of both "Banned" and "Zero" shot through the roof. Brilliant marketing strategy, if I do say so myself. We’d modified and personalized those standards that we'd been playing to the degree that they almost sounded like originals as a result of the band having been on the road for almost a year straight. So we had an intensely special, almost telepathic connection with one another. The transitions and segues exhibited on the recording clearly exhibit this. I also employed sonic cues and signals that we'd worked out amongst ourselves, so there was no need to count off songs or to mention what song was coming up next. Everyone knew the cues and knew where the music was going based upon the content and non-verbal direction of my playing. Our sets flowed like a continuous suite of music - full of sweeps and unexpected turns and transitions. It was a very fertile and exciting period, and can only happen as a result of mutual respect, awareness, consistency and dedicated playing together and when all are thinking as a unit.

My other idea was to issue it as a sanctioned "bootleg" recording. So, we deliberately gave the cover art a washed out look and hand wrote the credits to make it appear as amateurish as possible. The only giveaway that it wasn't a truly underground release was the presence of the Blue Note logo (which was hand-drawn as well) on the package. In an effort to add to the mystery, we also choose not to list where it had been recorded, even though the venue was still paid an agreed-upon fee.

So, to anyone who has not heard the project, I humbly invite you to look it up and have a listen. Hopefully you will get a glimpse into the collective mind of a “working band” that is truly playing in the moment with absolutely no reservations, and perhaps you too will emerge inspired and impressed by the work. After listening to it again, I most certainly was  - and I’m ON it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Talent Overload

I made a quick stop at one of the more popular New York clubs a few nights ago and caught several songs at the late night jam session. I don't have the opportunity to get out as often as I'd like but when I'm able to, the music is usually inspired, enlightening and often, quite exceptional. Young artists are playing at such a high level these days it's a pleasure and a privilege to hear them when it's done the right way. However, while I heard some fantastic and incredible playing that evening, on the other hand it was heartbreaking to see so many talented young artists (mostly in the audience) scrambling and jockeying to get in their few choruses in such a cramped and unorganized situation. The club was jam packed and I'm sure it was in violation of the occupancy codes. All of the players in there could have easily filled two or three clubs. And what was more striking to me was the realization that those players should have been at their own gigs!

Having cut my teeth in NY when there were literally dozens of daily/nightly sessions in clubs or at musician's apartments - not to mention more actual touring bands, witnessing the chaos that evening offered the sad realization that there now may quite possibly be too many musicians in NY for it's own good. I never thought it possible, but the city is now overflowing with legions of amazingly talented single musicians while there are few actual groups with identifiable concepts and directions. This, combined with the absence of suitable venues leaves me wondering if NY is or should be the desired first destination for eager and enthusiastic young hopefuls anymore. Should players, fresh from universities and conservatories, continue to try their luck in the big city amongst the hoards of other desperate, under served colleagues? Or would it be a far more prudent move for a youngster to travel to a less populated locale where he would be considered more eligible for quality work?

Inflated rents, substandard living conditions, venues shutting their doors, congestion, fierce competition, low (or no) pay for services rendered.. In today's musical climate, it may be wise to consider being a big fish in a smaller pond for a while. At least, until the student loans are paid off. 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Responses to "Live the Life First" from November, 2014

7 Responses to Live the life first.

1.     Greg Osby says: 
April 25, 2015 at 10:44 pm 
Here’s a comment sent to me from saxophonist David Binney

"Well, that tells it like it is. It’s right on, as anyone who does what we do knows.
This gets complicated though when I really,honestly, think about it. We are doing that sort of travel for a couple weeks, maybe 3 on average. The rest of the time, at home, we don’t even have to worry abut waking up at a certain hour. So, I feel that when the show goes on, regardless of how we feel, we must deal. And we do. There’s a rare time that we don’t. And, in this discussion, on the surface I don’t have sympathy with the writer that is critiquing the show. But if the writer is supposed to be the voice for people in the audience, then I have to take that writers view on the show seriously. I mean, as the viewpoint of the person who doesn’t know or care what the circumstances are prior to the performance.
Now, yes, I would love to have the writer travel with us and see how hard it is. It’s at times ridiculous. I just traveled 11 1/2 hours on the train yesterday right to a 2 set gig. But the report ultimately in my mind should be from, or I should say, “to” the viewpoint of the person who knows nothing of that struggle. That means the pressure is on us as musicians. And I guess I welcome that pressure. I worked day jobs in an office for 10 years. I know what that’s like. I sympathize with people who do that. But I’ll take the road to the gig over an office, any day.
 Now with all of that said, I agree with Greg. Writers should travel with us at some point and know what that is and what it takes to get up for a gig after that sort of travel. Ultimately the difference in the review should and would be small in wording but huge in scope. Just a couple of words added to a sentence that mentions how we traveled all day right to the gig to play for the people, and THEN say the we were “uninspired”. That would mean the world to us and maybe a little to the reader. It’s fine to criticize. As Greg said, the writer was right, but a word in there about the circumstance. Context. Just so the person who might not have liked it that one night, comes back one more time to give it another chance.
Ultimately, I totally agree with Greg. The writer should travel with us first. I would just hate to have a writer do that and write a good review that’s colored by those travel circumstances. The review ultimately has to be about the music and for and from the office workers viewpoint tempered with a deep understanding of what it takes for musicians to do what they do under rough tour conditions."

2.     Greg Osby says: 
April 25, 2015 at 10:49 pm 
Points taken, Dave. I also wouldn’t want to influence anyone into offering favorable reviews just because they earned their road “wings” from hanging on tour with musicians. I’m primarily vying for an overall enlightenment and awareness from those who regularly make it their point to enlighten without facts, details nor experience.

3.     Joseph L. says: 
April 30, 2015 at 1:11 am 
It’s unfortunate that such critics/journalists clearly don’t take in consideration the “behind the scenes” circumstances.
I was part of the tour as the bass player in Greg’s band. I was born in the US but I grew up in Italy; they call it “Il Bel Paese”, which means “the beautiful country”, sure beautiful, and there are many things that I love about it, but I felt in many circumstances that I had to mediate between two worlds, the “new world” and the “old world” mentality. Through the tour we had to deal with certain circumstances, working conditions that were, as already described, to say the very least, rough.
Said so I will like to point out the fact that artists, individuals that by nature do much traveling, deal with many different mentalities and ways of doing things, and this develops a strong flexibility. In other words artists to me are generally very open minded individuals, but it doesn’t mean that they necessarily accept everything that is thrown at them. They simply deal with the circumstances and always, if true artists, try their best to perform a meaningful musical experience for the people in attendance.
I think it is too easy for critics to sit back and criticize a concert without considering certain working conditions that might be in certain cases disruptive to the artist.
YES, it will be a good thing if critics/journalists would be on the road with the musicians.
They might be a little more cautious in their judgement.

4.     Seth Bohen says: 
May 5, 2015 at 11:25 am 
Hey Greg I agree with this, I feel that in order to give the best judgment a journalist should be on the road with the band; however in defense of the journalist they often have strenuous travels to get the story, they get into the situation and live it. Much like musicians I feel you have those who stay local and play minimal gigs where they are comfortable, but you also have those who travel the world, bringing music with little rest, because of their love for the music. You have journalist who simply stay in their area and write basic reviews, but you have those who travel the world getting the perfect situation for a story and meeting a deadline. Thats how they make a living and live their life that way. It is just as brutal at times as traveling for gigs. However I do agree that in order to best critique a band that journalist must be on the road and understand what the musicians are enduring. Awesome blog Greg, thank you.

 5.     Greg Osby says: 
May 8, 2015 at 5:57 pm 
At the very least, journalists would do better to engage in open dialog with musicians in order to ascertain what the artistic goals and aspirations are/were. It’s quite reckless to assume and guess what cats are “trying” to do. Just ask, and all will be revealed.

6.     Greg Osby says: 
May 14, 2015 at 7:28 pm 
Other opinions:
7.     Peter Wisely says: 
May 26, 2015 at 12:53 pm 
Hey Greg, I think seth has a valid point, but I also agree with the idea of open dialog with the musician. I feel that if the journalist gets involved on more of a first had account it is not only more affective for them but it helps generate a gripping story that the reader could get genuinely involved in. I’m going to check out the Other Opinions section now. Do you by chance have any teachings/lessons about jazz? I’ve recently started divulging my life with a lot of jazz and I would like to have a bit better understanding of it. Thank you

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cold as Ice, Son

(from a reader's response to a couple of my recorded solos:)

If this is "cold, robotic and unfeeling," sign me up for a tray of ice cubes and icebergs 'cause I wanna be cold too! His tone on "Dont Explain" is like butter!!!!!!!! And his solo on "Repay in Kind", although technical, VERY logical if you figure out the chords.

Listen to Greg Osby perform "Don't Explain" here:

Check out Osby's other examples here:

Greg Osby on You Tube

Monday, February 16, 2015

9 Responses to Ladies First (from August 2014)

9 Responses to Ladies First

    1.     St. Paul says: 
July 9, 2010 at 12:05 am 
Funny, but so true.

    2.     Jake Hansen says: 
July 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm 
well most girls i know would rather go to some other show besides jazz, truthfully i’m happy as long as i’m not going to see metal, screamo, or rap. most girls i know will only go to a show if its a band or artist they already know well and that’s the big reason teenagers only really go to auditorium shows (only every couple of years), and plus the fact that almost every other venue in the united states is a bar of some kind luckily there are a few bars (there’s a lot in Nebraska) that create all-ages shows, and i know some of my friends have gone to those

    3.     Greg Osby says: 
July 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm 
Thanks for your comments, Jake. Perhaps it’ll take patrons of music like yourself that are somewhat more open minded who could possibly serve to introduce the females that you mentioned to the particulars of jazz appreciation. We all know that they won’t attend the concerts voluntarily, so exposing them to some alternative listening occasionally could mix things up a bit?
The all-age issue is an important one for sure. All of the clubs in NY have minimum age drinking policies but do not prohibit non-drinkers from attending shows, particularly if they are accompanied by someone who is responsible. Some clubs back in the day used to have “peanut galleries” where underage fans could enjoy sets of live music but were restricted to drinking juices, sodas and milkshakes. The revival of this policy would do wonders in terms of luring a younger demographic back to jazz shows.

    4.     Rick Louie says: 
July 19, 2010 at 11:02 am 
I think, in NY, it depends on the venue. There are plenty of females hip to jazz at places like Tea Lounge in Brooklyn, and even sometimes (though, depending on who’s playing) at 55 Bar and Smalls. There are always females at Fat Cat but that's not exactly the best place to watch (or play).

    5.     amr e. says: 
July 23, 2010 at 5:21 am 
Wow it seems to be a great subject keep on going and I hope to see more from you

    6.     Terry H. says: 
August 7, 2010 at 2:47 am 
Isn’t the problem you describe a subset of a larger problem with the state of the profession: there is a disproportionately small number of women in the field of jazz at all, and so no wonder so few women listen. Greg: hire two or three women in your band and see if the demographics of your audience changes.

    7.     Greg Osby says: 
August 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm 
Terry H. Perhaps you don’t know my history. I’ve always been equal opportunity. I’d had an amazing female vocalist in my band for the past 3 years (Sara Serpa) and had Terri Lyne Carrington on drums with us all last week at the Village Vanguard.
I’ve always had talented women in my bands and recordings. Geri Allen, Terri Lyne Carrington, Michele Rosewoman, Renee Rosnes, Camille Gainer Jones, Megumi Yonezawa, Sara Serpa, Bemshi Shearer, Cassandra Wilson, Amina Claudine Meyers, Fusako Yoshida, Tracy Wormworth, Glenna Powrie, Haruko Nara, Marlene Rice, Nioka Workman, Judith Insell and several more.

(Since this was first published: Simona Premazzi, Melissa Aldana, Helen Sung, Tammy Scheffer, Linda Oh, Mor Ben-Yakir, etc...)

    8.     BigRonLove Dawolfman says: 
May 29, 2011 at 3:27 am 
Wow! How sad, I have seen performers every where in this large city I live in and never have I heard this type of crybaby mess, bro. you are on stage where so many of us go nuts to get to and when we do we do our thing for who ever shows up, and then give them all we got, Ive never seen a guy with balls so tiny as to get on a mic and cry to the people like its there fault that your band dosen’t have any female followers thats some real mess, I just performed this past week and we had so many women there that we couldn’t stop spinning around to thank them for there complements nope Im not bragging Im just wondering, why? any musician can’t find women to visit a show or a performance location that dosen’t have women visitors there even befor the band arrives, I did a show once when I was a kid no one came to but that was because the guy that booked it was already known for being a prick and he knew there more than likely wouldn’t be a turn out and that we were to green to check the spot out first. But never again, what the heck dude don’t do that again to yourself I won’t even stoop so low as to give you advice on how to get women to show up because I know any man has to have a clue on that one Im just going to say don’t be that way you have to be a better man than that come-on man.

     9.     Greg Osby says: 
June 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm 
BigRonLove Dawolfman, you're certainly entitled to your opinion and perspective. I'll leave your response for all to see, whether I agree with you or not. Apparently, you missed my point entirely or felt an urgent need to let off some steam. Either way, I'm fine with it. Especially your "crybaby" and "tiny balls" comments. Hilarious.

    10.     Jayn Pettingill says: 
August 16, 2012 at 12:58 pm 
This is the first time I have ever heard an artist of your stature mention this topic: it’s wonderful to see this fact addressed. Two brief facts about myself: I am female and I am a jazz instrumentalist. I used to go to jazz and improvised music shows a lot and was often the sole female in attendance. Or, if it was a more “traditional” billing, such as Shirley Horn, there would be women there but more often as dates. As an aspiring musician I was seeking to find a community within the audience I was attending a show with–if that makes sense. People with whom I could talk about the show; parse out what was going on with the compositions, with the band, with technique of the players. Often, I ended up feeling like the one woman who walks into a car parts store–guys notice you and kind of write you of as a) being lost or b) you won’t know what you’re talking about. So yeah, getting women into an audience to hear this music; to begin a discourse about this music; to feel that they are a “part” of the process from being initiators to receivers of this music–is really very important. Thank you for bringing this up. I enjoyed reading your post about this–and as always–have always loved what you do musically.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Change Is Upon Us

Pianist Jason Moran (AKA JAMO) made a statement in a recent All About Jazz Interview that resonated with me quite deeply. We used to have many extended discussions concerning interpretation and approaches to new music. What he offers here reflects a sentiment that I too, often feel when playing the music of other composers or when I am invited as a guest artist to perform with ensembles that have a bit of history amongst themselves. Quite very frequently, I am presented with music that I find myself struggling to play upon first attempt. Most of the more complicated matters lessen after ample rehearsal and explanations are made, but many issues are somewhat more extensive than simply developing of an understanding of the composer's or band's artistic intent. If only it were that simple.

As music progresses through the continuum, and artists produce works that are borne and reflective of various backgrounds, perspectives, stimuli and resources, it is sometimes a very daunting task to simply immerse oneself in their world and expect to function normally without floundering or sometimes even faltering miserably. These days, the makeup of most compositions reflects a series of sensibilities that must be lived and experienced extensively in order to accurately interpret the music at hand to satisfaction.

It's often not necessarily even a matter of being uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the methods or techniques used, it is actually a matter of responding favorably and readily to a set or series of options that are particular to a different generation, lifestyle or stylistic sector. In several instances, I have found myself caught up helplessly in a vortex of sound and means while the entire rest of the band (usually age 30 and under) proceed with exceptional comfort and confidence, as they know exactly where the beats lie as well as what the sources are of all of the reference points. At that point, I would have to stop frequently to request an explanation of the finer points of the music or that the tempo be slowed down so that I can "feel it."  In short, contemporary improvised music and all that it's made up of, has evolved by leaps and bounds and it's critical to every practitioner of the craft that they continue to make themselves aware of the developments as they occur, lest be left behind. Or worse, to allow themselves to get "caught up" in a situation that reveals their lack of awareness and ability to navigate unfamiliar (and sometimes unforgiving) musical terrain.

The full article is HERE:

AAJ: You articulated that very clearly in the listening session as well. How the music from that era had a very particular sound and can be used as this line of demarcation dividing jazz between pre and post civil rights music. But as you just said, a whole lot more comes after that. So I'm curious if you think we are in a new period now?

JM: Definitely we are in a new period. I was just talking with Ambrose Akinmusire and Walter Smith III after they'd sat in with Eric Harland's band at the Monterey Jazz Festival and they played this tune and I was like, [laughs] yeah, see my generation we weren't messin' with that. That's something that is just y'all. And all the cats in that generation know how to move into music like that. There's a lot of flexibility and flow within it and when I play a tune like that with y'all its like, whoo! I'm struggling to keep up. 

"Already the new generation—them dudes and ladies are already out there making some pretty great, provocative work. I'm happy and I can already hear the shift. So even like say a Robert Glasper record or Jamire Williams, those are marks of what music emerged from the influences of the '80s and '90s. It is just starting to emerge out of that. And it is definitely a defined sound if you listen to enough of it. And it is not in Wynton Marsalis' generation. And it is not David Murray's generation. It's a different language."

Frankly, I couldn't agree more. Things have changed. Many things. Awareness is key and I, for one, refuse to allow myself to miss out on the advances as they occur. As the environments change and new and inspiring ideas are implemented, they will present some challenges that must be faced.

I'm looking forward to each and every one. The next level will not be attained through avoidance.